School spirit is taking a back seat to fashion propriety in Florida, where a school district is banning its own cheerleaders from wearing their uniforms during the school day.
As first reported by the Tampa Bay Times, the Pinellas School District is refusing to allow cheerleaders at a number of its schools from wearing their uniforms during the school day. According to upset parents, it was decided that the uniforms were against the district's dress code because the sleeveless tops and short skirts that are universally identified with school cheerleaders are deemed "too vulgar."
According to Clearwater (Fl.) Countryside High Principal Gary Schlereth, allowing the cheerleaders to wear their uniforms maintains a double standard for other students who might then feel it was acceptable to wear shorter skirts than they are allowed.
"A parent looks at their son or daughter getting 'dress coded' for wearing something short," Schlereth told the Times. "Then they look at the cheerleading uniform and they say, 'What about that?'"
While there is legitimate logic behind the ban, the decision to keep area cheerleaders from wearing their uniforms on game days is a sudden departure from past tradition.
The policy shift isn't just taking place at Countryside. In fact, schools across the Tampa-St. Petersburg region are following suit, with the likes of Clearwater (Fl.) Gibbs High, St. Petersburg (Fl.) High and St. Petersburg (Fl.) Northeast High all joining in on the new game-day uniform ban, at least until an acceptable solution to both lengthen skirts during the day and provide arm cover is agreed upon.
In the meantime, the parents of cheerleaders who looked forward to the tradition of wearing uniforms on game days are distraught that their children are being cheated out of a practice they feel is an integral part of the cheerleading experience.
"The girls are there to promote the school," Norma Fraser, whose daughter Jeana Fraser is a sophomore cheerleader on the varsity squad at Countryside, told ABC News Tampa Bay. "My daughter loves Countryside. She wants this to be a positive thing and she wants to keep the tradition and so do I."